Sterne @ London Review Bookshop

Recently I’ve been helping Patrick Wildgust of the Laurence Sterne Trust prepare the text for a new limited edition of A Sentimental Journey illustrated by Martin Rowson. It marks the 250th anniversary of the novel’s publication.

We’re launching the edition at London Review Bookshop next week. The event, a conversation between Martin Rowson and Iain Sinclair, is now sold out, but you can buy a copy of the book here for £12.50: all proceeds go to the Trust.

Meanwhile, Laurence Sterne is author of the month at London Review Bookshop. Rowson’s illustrations adorn the shop windows, and Patrick and I have written a couple of blog posts for their blog:

‘Quite out of the beaten track’: Patrick Wildgust on ‘A Sentimental Journey’

Sentiment or Sensuality? Laurence Sterne’s Sentimental Journey



Yorick’s Procrastination

In volume 2 of Sterne’s Sentimental Journey (1768), Parson Yorick sits down to breakfast in Paris. La Fleur has given him a fresh block of butter wrapped in paper. About to discard the paper, Yorick finds that it seems to be part of a literary manuscript. He sits down by the window to study the text. The paper is dirty, the hand is gothic, the language is Old French, and the writing is faded. He is very intrigued but has a great deal of trouble trying to understand it.

it cost me infinite trouble to make any thing of it—I threw it down; and then wrote a letter to Eugenius—then I took it up again, and embroiled my patience with it afresh—and then to cure that, I wrote a letter to Eliza.—Still it kept hold of me; and the difficulty of understanding it increased but the desire.

(The Fragment. Paris)

For Yorick, the answer is a bottle of Burgundy, which enables him to translate the text because it ‘enlightened his mind’.

Sterne’s words, not mine.